Top Tips to Keep Teens Safe Behind the Wheel


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                Safe Kids Delaware



Top Tips to Keep Teens Safe Behind the Wheel

National Teen Driver Safety Week puts the spotlight on safe teen driving behavior 

Dover, DE –  In recognition of National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 21-27, 2018), Safe Kids Delaware urges teens and their families to discuss smart strategies for staying safe behind the wheel. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for American teens and are most often the result of inexperienced teen drivers taking risks like not buckling up, texting, driving with teen passengers, speeding, driving under the influence or driving in the dark.

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“Every year more than two thousand teen drivers are involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes, most of which are caused by inexperience on the road,” said Kim O’Malley, Chairperson, Safe Kids Delaware Board of Directors. “Time and again we hear stories about teens whose inexperience, when combined with unnecessary risk-taking – like not wearing a seat belt- results in tragedy. Teen Driver Safety Week should serve as an important reminder to parents to talk to their teens about the necessity of buckling up and keeping the phone down on every ride, and to make sure you are following the rules, too.”

Safe Kids Delaware recommends the following top driving safety tips for teen drivers.

  1. Talk to your teens about how to be safe while driving. Remind teens to follow traffic signals and laws, make eye contact with pedestrians, and enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  1. Make a formal agreement with your teen and enforce it. A 2016 research report by Safe Kids Worldwide showed that formal parent-teen agreements regarding driving restrictions help reduce risky driving, traffic violations, and crashes.
  1. Let your actions speak as loud as your words. Kids are always watching, even when you think they’re not. So set a good example when kids and teens are in the car. If you buckle up, they are more likely to buckle up and if you speed, they will speed. 
  1. Ensure your new teen driver gets at least 50 hours of experience under a variety of driving conditions. Having more experience behind the wheel helps new drivers manage driving in the dark and driving with other teen passengers in the car, situations that can increase the likelihood of crashes for young drivers.
  1. Take action against distraction. Teach teen drivers to put cell phones and other distractions in the back seat or out of sight until their final destination.
  1. Be alert around neighborhoods and schools. When driving, be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones and be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.
  1. Watch out for pedestrians. Give pedestrians the right of way and look both ways when making a turn to help spot any bikers, walkers or runners who may not be immediately visible.

Download infographic to review common risks and tips.

Download a sample family agreement.

In further recognition of National Teen Driver Safety Week, Safe Kids Worldwide, with support from Chevrolet, released the results of their Teen Video Challenge. Kaylyn Barbour, a teen from Oklahoma, created the award-winning video in which she shares her story of how her choice to not wear her seat belt changed her life completely. The tragic experience has compelled Kaylyn to speak out to teens about the risks of unsafe driving behaviors.

Watch Kaylyn’s Story

The Safe Kids Buckle Up program is a national initiative established 19 years ago by Safe Kids Worldwide and GM to keep children, teens, and families safe in and around cars. GM’s long-term commitment to educating families has helped the child safety program evolve into one of the most comprehensive in the nation, and covers children from birth to the time they become drivers.

About Safe Kids Delaware

Safe Kids Delaware works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Its members include various state agencies and other partners including Delaware Division of Public Health, Delaware State Fire School, Christiana Care Health System, Nemours/A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Bayhealth Medical Center, Beebe Healthcare, Delaware Department of Transportation, Delaware Office of Highway Safety, Kent County Department of Public Safety/EMS, Delaware State Police, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Safe Kids Delaware is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury in children. Safe Kids Delaware was founded in 1992 and is led by Delaware’s Division of Public Health.

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This message has been brought to you on behalf of Safe Kids Delaware from the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.

You Are Not Invincible

Crossing the Line video released for Teen Driver Safety Week

Dover- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the US. During Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct 19-25), the Delaware Teen Driver Task Force released a video titled “Crossing the Line”. The video tells the story of a 2012 fatal crash involving 17 year-old Andre Smith who was a passenger in a speeding vehicle driven by 19 year old driver Mar’Kese Marshall-Horsey. Andre Smith was killed in the crash on April 12, 2012 on Route 896 in Middletown.

Andre Smith was a high school senior and star football player at Appoquinimink High School and was to graduate June 13th, 2012. Unfortunately Andre did not make it to graduation day. After spending the day with friends and on the way home, Andre was riding in the passenger seat when the driver was speeding and lost control of his SUV, swearing into oncoming traffic. The passenger side was struck by another large vehicle, killing Andre instantly.

Speed was one of the contributing factors in this fatal incident said Sean Lugg, Deputy Attorney General for the Delaware Department of Justice. “If it wasn’t for the speed, this collision would not have happened.”

Between 2011 and 2013, drivers aged 19 years and under were responsible for the most speed related injury crashes (22%) in Delaware.  Male drivers accounted for two-thirds (2/3) of those crashes. Kevin M. Bradley M.D., Associate Medical Director of Trauma at Christiana Care Health System, believes young folks are prone to crashes because there is a sense of invincibility and something bad won’t happen to them. “Speed is a factor in injury, because when traveling at a high rate of speed, you are more prone to get into a crash and following that crash you are more likely to have more severe injuries,” Dr. Bradley said.

Nineteen year old Mar’Kese Marshall-Horsey was the driver in Andre Smith’s fatal crash. He was charged with the reckless killing of his friend. “I lost everything; I lost everything and everybody,” said Marshall-Horsey. “One accident put everything out the window.”

The driver is currently serving a 5-year prison term at Howard Young Correctional Facility as a result of his actions that lead to the fatal crash.

“Crossing the Line” documents the consequences that many have suffered as a result of this tragic crash and will also become part of the revised Driver’s Education curriculum to be distributed to all drivers’ education teachers in the State of Delaware.

The video can be viewed and shared on the Office of Highway Safety Arrive Alive DE YouTube channel


Does Your Teen Driver Know Everything?

Teen Driver Safety Week October 19-25

Dover – Has your teen driver ever rolled their eyes and responded “Yes, I know that” when you are trying to coach them behind the wheel? We know they do not know everything but part of your job as parents and caregivers is to ensure they learn everything about how to be a responsible and safe driver.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 14-18 year olds in the U.S. In fact, almost half of the teen drivers involved in a crash die. Yet, a recent survey shows that only 25% of parents have had a serious talk with their kids about the key components of driving. During Teen Driver Safety Week, parents and caregivers of teen drivers are encouraged to have a conversation with their teen drivers and set rules about the responsibility of having the car keys before they hit the road.

In June of 2012, the Delaware Office of Highway Safety coordinated a technical assessment and evaluation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Delaware driver education program. The assessment report has contributed to the State’s efforts to enhance the effectiveness of its driver’s education program in preventing injuries, saving lives and reducing economic costs of young novice driver motor vehicle crashes on Delaware’s roadways. As a result, the Delaware Teen Driver Task Force was re-established in 2013. One of the goals for the task force is to promote education of teen drivers and their parents about safe driving skills, training, and the consequences if ignored. Members of the task force include the Office of Highway Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Education, Delaware Driver Safety Education Association, Delaware State Police, and SmartDrive.

Members of the task force have developed or have provided several resources for parents and teens to encourage a dialog of safe driving and rules of the road. These resources are available year round and are being highlighted during Teen Driver Safety Week.

  • The Office of Highway Safety created a Graduated Driver’s License Parent Orientation Program to educate parents of teen drivers about their responsibilities under the GDL law.
  • The DMV coordinated the Parent Supervised Driving Program and RoadReady app for parents and teens. This year theme is It Takes Two: Shared Expectations for Teens and Parents for Driving. The topic is aligned with the program’s effort to help motivate parents to expand their participation in the supervised driving process.
  • The Delaware Driver and Safety Education Association (DDSEA) is encouraging Delaware high schools to participate in Celebrate My Drive, powered by State Farm Insurance. The program brings added awareness to teen driver safety during National Teen Driver Safety Week. In addition, it offers participating schools the chance to compete for grant money ranging from $25,000-$100,000 by having their schools and communities vote online in recognition of the importance of keeping 2 eyes on the road and 2 hands on the wheel when driving.
  • The SmartDrive Foundation is conducting in school education programs such as their Driving With Intention program, PROMise program and Distraction & Reaction program. Each program is designed to educate young drivers to make the right decisions every time they are behind the wheel so they will never put anyone in harm’s way.
  • A subcommittee was created to update the driver’s education curriculum in Delaware high schools. The curriculum is being updated to meet the National Content Standards for driver’s education curriculum, meet the Common Core State Standards initiative and to include new traffic laws. The new curriculum will ensure continuity, measurement, and accountability for educators and novice teen drivers learning in Delaware.

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Commissioner Stewart Addresses Teen Driving Safety As Prom Season Approaches

Dover, DE–Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart suggests that parents set aside time to discuss the importance of safe driving practices, especially in regards to attending prom and related after-parties, as motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year olds in the U.S (1). Safe driving practices are important to enforce year-round but parents can help their teens make better decisions by discussing specific driving guidelines, and the consequences of violating those rules, especially when it comes to attending special events like prom.

Many teen drivers simply lack the experience to recognize and respond to hazardous driving situations and are thus more likely to engage in dangerous practices like speeding and becoming distracted by passengers in their car. Teens are more likely to be in an accident if other teens are present in the vehicle. It’s important to set clear limits on how many occupants are allowed in your teen’s car.

It should also be noted that under Delaware’s Level One Learner’s Permit restrictions the law states, “No passengers other than an adult supervisor and 1 other passenger can be in the vehicle during the entire first 12 months of valid driving authority. However, the passenger restrictions of this paragraph do not apply to immediate members of the driver’s family as long as the adult supervisor is in the car.” The law further states, “During the second 6 month period of unsupervised driving, when a supervisor is not present, only 1 other passenger in addition to the driver can be in the vehicle.”

Commissioner Stewart added, “One of the biggest distractions of all is often a driver’s cellphone. Delaware law forbids the use of handheld cellphone use and texting while driving for drivers of all ages. Nationally, 20% of teens and 10% of adults admit that they have extended text message conversations while driving (2). Nobody should text and drive, no matter their age.” Young drivers on the Level One Learner’s Permit are forbidden from cellphone use entirely. In 2011, 11 percent of all drivers age 15 to 19 involved in fatal accidents were distracted at the time of crash; 21 percent of those drivers were distracted by their cellphone (3).

In 2011, 32 percent of drivers aged 15 to 20 involved in a fatal automobile crash were drinking (4). In a study by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), it was found that when parents used clear “no use” messages, teens were 80 percent less likely to drink(5). Parents should discuss specific plans for where their teen will be going after the prom and confirm with other adults that alcohol and drug-use will not be allowed in any of those settings. Parents are encouraged to set a curfew as well, and many require that their son or daughter call them before they drive home, or are driven home, to ensure that no drivers have been drinking.

One of the most important, and easy, safety practices to follow is to always use a seatbelt. In 2010, 56% of drivers age 15 to 20 who were killed in car crashes after drinking and driving were not wearing a seat belt(6). Seat belts should always be worn by anyone riding in a vehicle, no matter what.

Commissioner Stewart added, “Going to the prom is a fun and exciting occasion for teens, and parents can help make sure that their sons and daughters will make it home safely at the end of the night. Taking just a few minutes to discuss your teen’s after-prom plans, curfew and driving expectations can have a large, positive impact on their decision making process.”

Parents are encouraged to visit the “Parents Are the Key” website run by the Centers for Disease Control, at This website has a “Parent-Teen Driving Agreement” that you can print out and review with your teen. It’s a great tool for guiding a discussion about safe driving expectations and the consequences of breaking the rules that you put in place.

(1) Source: National Center for Health Statistics
(2) Source: Univ. of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
(3) Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(4) Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(5) Source: MADD online survey, September 2013
(6) Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Delaware Department of Insurance: “Protecting Delawareans through regulation and education while providing oversight of the insurance industry to best serve the public.”